It is 9am, my first two coffees of the day are kicking in as the sun comes up over one of Germany’s most famous race tracks: Hockenheim. I’m in the middle of a two-day program with workshops about the new Porsche 911. But as much as we enjoy talking about cars seeing-, hearing- and feeling them in action is the real deal. There is just one catch; II have to take part on the passenger seat with record-setting Porsche test driver Timo Kluck being my dedicated driver today.
The new 911 codenamed 992 is unmistakably a member of the 911 family with its unique silhouette and rear mounted boxer engine. But under it’s only so slightly revised and updated skin there are some significant changes. The twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine is now equipped with an emission cleaning petrol particle filter which had dampening effects on both sound and performance. To counter the effects Porsche went through great lengths to redesign all relevant components to warrants both a good sound as well as Porsche worthy performance.
Before we get into the new 911 for some hot laps on the Hockenheimring it is time to take a closer look at the new exterior. The car grew slightly in dimensions; 20mm longer and 40mm wider but the visual appearance changed mainly due to the wide front apron, wider rear shoulders and the mixed front and rear wheel sizes. In fact, the new 911 Carrera S is exactly as wide as the 991.2 GT3. The new recessed door handles are a little gimmick. The new rear is defined by a full width LED light and central rear braking light. The two oval tailpipes indicate the presence of the optional sports exhaust.
Inside the design made a much bigger leap than that of the outside with a much larger infotainment display and completely revised center console. The console is quite narrow and low enhancing both driver and passenger legroom as well as adding to spacious feeling of the 911 cabin. The lever to control the new 8-speed PDK is shaped like an electric razor and tiny in comparison to common controllers. The infotainment itself is very similar to the system already found in the new Cayenne, Macan and Panamera with a few new apps and connectivity service introduced on the 992. Which brings online navigation with live traffic updates and the latest entertainment to the 911 range.
Although the number of buttons and switches has been significantly reduced the 992 is still very driver oriented with most driving-relevant functions still available at the tip of a button. The 911 typical five dials are still there by default but four of five are now replaced by two high definition screens with the rev counter still analogue in the center position. The seats are still very good, also for taller people like myself, with seat heating and cooling available as an option.
The moment Timo Kluck fires up the new 911 Carrera S with the fixed key on the left side of the steering wheel I’m pleasantly surprised by the sound of the six-cylinder boxer which fills the cabin. I feared the new particle filter would hurt the sound quite a bit. But it has a bit more bass and is still immediately recognizable as the sound of a 911.
Accelerating out on track the tires are cold and so is the track making the car slide accompanied by the sound of the ABS doing what it does – tick tick tick tick. So far nothing new really, except the slightly softer suspension in normal mode. Switching to Sport Plus the 992 Carrera S bites harder but the gear changes feel smoother than the last gen 7-speed PDK. With 450hp and 530Nm of torque it gained 30hp and 30Nm compared to its predecessor. 0-100 km/h is now conquered in just 3.5 seconds and the ‘S’ tops out at 306 km/h. Solid numbers that translate only partly to faster track lap times.
In the development of the Porsche paid particular attention to daily use or its ‘alltagstauglichkeit’ as the Germans call it. PASM is redeveloped providing a broader spread between a soft and comfortable ride on one hand and a hard and sporty ride on the other hand. The 911 also received a range of (optional) driver assistance systems including adaptive cruise control, lane assist and 360 degree parking camera.
Particular emphasis is placed on the new ‘Wet’ mode which adjust virtually all dynamic aspects of the new 911 from throttle responds to gear changes when a wet road is detected. Two acoustic sensors in the front wheel arches can distinguish a wet surface from a road with sand and warn the driver accordingly. The driver can then choose to engage wet mode through one of the five switches below the main infotainment display or the turning knob on the steering wheel which is part of the Sport Chrono package.
Experiencing the difference between normal mode and wet mode on a skid pad in the paddock it is clear the new wet mode increases the stability and controllability a lot on a wet surface. The new function is not meant to be faster in the wet but add an additional level of safety and convenience to Porsche drivers who use their 911 on a daily basis and in changing weather conditions. Nonetheless the most fun is still to be had when drifting – and according to the Porsche engineers the new 911 vitals should last longer when drifting thanks to improved cooling and some other tweaks.
To conclude the step from 7th to 8th generation does not represent the biggest evolution in the 911s 55-year history. But he interior, infotainment and assistance systems have been brought up-to-date and the essentials are still true to the original paired with modern day performance. The biggest revolution for the 911 in decades is yet to come…